Check out my building blog to learn more about construction for your home or office in Austin! David L. Traut, President, CAPS Certified (512)444-0097

Pointers for Seniors To Age In Their Homes/Austin Aging in Place

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Apr 27, 2022 @ 11:04 AM

Everyone is living longer only to experience many life-challenging events during an extended lifespan.The desire to remain in your current home is not driven by age. This need is a reaction to and the result of life's experience. Any family living with a disability among any of its family members will always benefit from familiar surroundings. To increase safety and independence within your current home, certain modifications to increase accessibility and use are typically required. These modifications include but are not limited to wider doorways, the installation of ramps, inclusive kitchen modifications, accessible bathroom modifications, and the application of smooth, non-skid flooring. When planning on what modifications are needed, always make a list of the home's most problematic areas for any or all of its residents. This basic desire is creating unprecedented nationwide challenges and a niche market in the remodeling industry known as Aging in Place. The majority of Americans over the age of 45 want to continue living in an environment they are well acquainted with throughout their maturing years. These people are looking for safety, security, ease of use, and comfort for their forever home before they must vacate due to specialized needs. 

Aging In Place Home Modifications

But where did this commonly seen lack of home accessibility in nearly all homes come from? Perpetual, status quo building techniques, and affordability provide the answers. Over time, along with the exponential birth rate of the baby boomers in the late 40s and 50s, the need for more housing created sprawling American suburbs to accommodate the growing families. Developments sprang up with few architectural options while affordability was the main concern. Today, these same homes slowly and increasingly signify outdated and obsolete architectural barriers exposing a true lack of accessibility for the very people inhabiting them. The situation is ever more expanding in time since the greatest majority of individuals want to age where they currently reside. 

Aging In Place Remodel in Austin

According to the AARP, 80 percent of older homeowners overwhelmingly prefer to Age in Place, which means living in a home safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age or ability level. People with disabilities are aging but healthy individuals are aging into a disability. Aging in Place strictly deals with the remodeling of existing homes. Therefore, to Age in Place, owners need to gradually modify their homes as they mature increasing access and safety using the principles of Universal Design before a life-changing event forces making sudden architectural changes. The Aging in Place market in the U.S. today is influenced by the increasing size of the aging population, the market desire to remain in one's home, a constantly increasing cultural diversity, and the aging housing stock associated with reduced affordability. The desire to remain in existing homes is driven by social attachments via a network of neighbors, friends, and family. Comfortable positive aging is a way of living rather than a state of being.  What's more, seniors who took a proactive approach in modifying their homes over time offer peace of mind to their loved ones who know their family members are living safely and independently in their homes. 

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Clearly, the act of Aging in Place occurs during a period of time when mature homeowners or seniors have the ability to make decisions to better support an increased quality of life. There are three segments served within the Aging in Place marketplace. The first segment includes those homeowners without urgent needs. The second segment focuses on a group of homeowners with progressive health needs. The third sector involves those people who have undergone traumatic health changes or accidental injuries necessitating immediate modifications to the home. The choice to Age in Place does not mean the homeowner has to do everything in the future by themselves. Aging in Place principles supports responsible people living life with dignity and independence even when outside assistance is essential.

T-Square Company is one of Austin's premier Aging in Place contractors offering complete Aging in Place services from home assessments to design/builds. We have over 30 years of accessibility knowledge to share with our clients making their home life less complicated. We hold a nationally recognized CAPS certification (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) offered by the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB. Contact T-Square Company today to find out how to proceed toward an accessible second chapter of your life while remaining at home. We offer complete Aging in Place design services.

Download Our Free Aging In Place Remodeling Considerations Checklist

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ADA Contractor/Austin, Texas/T-Square Company

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Mar 07, 2022 @ 11:03 AM

Millions of Americans are living longer and have more active lives.  While this group is embracing newly found and changing lifestyles, a need to revitalize their home environments has come about.  Identifying this major opportunity while developing the skills to interact with those needful homeowners has created a new type of elder remodeling.  A certified aging-in-place specialist or CAPS home remodeler has completed the coursework and training in how to help keep existing homeowners in their homes longer. They will be listed in a national directory compiled by the NAHB in Washington. The CAPS certificate holders act as ADA Contractors utilizing the ADA published rules. Their final accessible designs involve the ADA handbook as a guide but are not strictly held to all the ADA standards and regulations because they are funded with private monies. However, accessible CAPS designs are customized around the client's abilities. 

The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest-growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for aging in place and ADA accessibility in Austin, Texas.  David L. Traut, CAPS the owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS) designation, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners, or their visitors. T-Square Company is an ADA contractor in Austin, Texas abiding by the published ADA rules for their extremely disabled clients.

There are three categories of aging-in-place customers. Those who are simply and wisely planning ahead for their futures to remain in their present homes. The second category concerns those people who know they have a chronic medical disorder and need to prepare in advance for accessibility issues that will come as a result of their disease. People with diseases that are constantly causing increased physical or mental changes to their being are a good representative of this second group. The third group involves those people who either have had a chronic problem that has progressed severely altering their mobility or those who have sustained a life-altering tragedy such as being involved in an accident.  All of these groups will drive the future metamorphosis of existing inaccessible dwellings requiring bathrooms with disability access. The goal of an Austin ADA compliant remodel or an accessible bathroom design is to make the bathroom a safe space for everyone who uses the facilities. Aging in place services use design techniques to accommodate wheelchair users and can make the bathroom more comfortable for all generations with or without specific needs. It is important to carefully outline the scope of work during the remodeling of an accessible bathroom by first taking inventory of the user's capabilities, needs, and preferences.  All disability home remodeling or disability bath remodels in Austin must be done considering all the data provided by the client, his or her family, and any caretakers involved. CAPS certified remodeling and aging in place design must be carried out by aging in place specialists and residential remodeling professionals.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

 

Wheelchair Accessible Kitchen in Austin

 

Home Accessibility Help

Many people find themselves needing accessible homes for themselves or family members. There are approximately 30 million Americans using wheelchairs and the number of people who need accessible homes will continue to increase as disabled and aging people are finding more ways to remain living in their homes. One important way to increase independent living is making a home accessible to any individual personal needs. Home modifications can increase safety, accessibility, and independence for people who want to live independently.

The three main rooms involved in aging in place home modifications are the bathroom, the kitchen, and the family room in that order.  These areas make up the most occupied spaces of any home and will be connected by a designated accessible route.  Here we will need access through wider doorways, non-slip floor surfaces, and adequate cabinet and plumbing fixture accessibility.  What is more important is that we must observe safety for everyone as the baby boomers choose to age in place within their homes.  Just remember one thing and dispel any myth that aging in place construction and remodeling must appear institutional or out of the ordinary. When the work is done with style and taste it will only compliment the home.

An accessible bathroom should try to maintain a five-foot turning radius for wheelchair use if at all possible. Have your plumbing facilities brought into compliance to enable freedom and safety.  The use of grab bars within the tub or shower and around the toilet can be very helpful in ensuring your safety for maneuverability.  These should be installed at 34 inches above the finished floor to safeguard your use of them.  Having roll under capability for the new 34" high vanity can be very helpful while you are in the wheelchair.  Exact clearances of 27" high and 32" in width should be complied with underneath the vanity.  The proper safety equipment should be installed on the plumbing pipes that don't allow scalding of your legs. The toilet may need to be replaced providing a comfort level height that is around 18" in height for easier access.  The tub or shower may need to be altered to become only a shower with roll-in or possibly transfer capabilities.  All of these changes must be done along with the  ADA guidelines for your safety.

The door width requirement of 32" or more will be true for any room in the house if you are to enter them barrier-free.  The kitchen, your bedroom, and any other rooms you require accessibility to enter could be affected.  Even the closet door within your bedroom will need to be wide enough so that you can manage to get your clothes to dress.  Any other bedrooms that you may need to enter with your wheelchair will also need alterations.

The accessible kitchen is another story altogether.  You will need the roll-under capability as mentioned above at the kitchen sink, cooktop, or food prep area. Upper kitchen cabinet heights become an issue and require pull-down mechanisms for better access. Multiple height worksurfaces between 28 and 34 inches offer flexibility to all users. No matter what you end up doing, make sure to hire an experienced building professional who understands the ADA guidelines for your well-being. Contact T-Square Company at 512-444-0097 today for all your newly discovered accessibility needs.

Improve Handicap Accessibility

 

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Professional Disability Remodeling Contractor In Austin/Disability Home Remodeling Near Me

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Jan 31, 2022 @ 13:01 PM

Physical limitations affect many more people than the daily users of walkers and wheelchairs. Many members of our society experience a need for elder construction and disability remodeling having significant problems in dealing with their home environment. Today's conventional building standards conflict with most people's accessibility when you consider our created architectural barriers concerning cabinetry and door opening widths, individual strength, range of motion, movement,  manual dexterity, balance, and coordination. Once the demands of our built environment exceed their capacities we become excluded from a room or even the entire home. The building world must work in unison to be sure the entire living environment meets basic needs in addition to affordability and structural integrity for the consumer and homeowner. This includes both the home and the components within the home being accessible to all inhabitants. Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the sense of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and should be considered for any design.

The concept of successful aging has become increasingly important as senior citizens begin to dominate the population. An active engagement in life through participation in social and productive activities is one component of successful aging. The built environment directly impacts the engagement profiles of older adults so it is necessary to provide environments designed to suit the needs of aging adults. Of all the design theories that attempt to accommodate the aging process, Universal Design may be the most desirable option as it provides built environments that benefit everyone. Universal Design is a promising voluntary philosophy that requires increased attention from designers and builders participating in Aging in Place. Taken as a whole, it is evident that the application of Universal Design into the built environment is a positive step toward successful aging.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

The new evolving concept known as Universal Design for home remodeling is catching on nationwide and has been for several years as a sign of the times. Universal Design principles used in building or remodeling make a home more accessible to all regardless of their mobility or adaptive abilities. Furthermore, the evolution of new products used for disability home modifications is making those homes more accessible and has finally come about in the remodeling industry. These new advances in accessible home remodeling in Austin not only keep the living environments safer but will not compromise the home's aesthetics. In fact, there are many benefits to using Universal Design techniques, including potential ease of use by aging family members, added resale value, and the fact that you'll be creating a space that can be used by anyone who visits your home, regardless of their range of abilities. Universal Design offers a clear path for Aging in Place within any home.

Simple Universal Design updates for Aging in Place home modifications and handicap accessibility can include adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home, adding a seat within the roll-in shower, lowering upper cabinets and countertops, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways or installing stairlifts, and widening doors.  You might also consider lowering light switches and thermostats and installing easier-to-use doorknobs. You should try to provide a clear barrier-free path or accessible route to the most visited areas of your home as recommended by the ADA. Remember that more open space gives room for maneuverability while using any mobility aid required.

Accessible bathroom in Austin, Texas

 

When mobility becomes an issue for any homeowner or family member, regardless of age, the question arises concerning physically moving to a different home on one level with at least a bath that is more accessible. Austin handicap remodeling can help in preparing for one of those highly likely events involving someone in your home needing room modifications for even a short time while recovering from surgery is surely a smart move. Solving Aging in Place issues will soon become the number one challenge concerning the present obsolete housing inventory in our country. Our present-day obsolete homes now inhabited by the baby boomer generation will slowly and increasingly raise their outdated and obsolete ugly heads and expose their true lack of accessibility to those very people inhabiting them. The situation will only become ever more expanding in time. When these homes were previously purchased, they represented an absolute castle in the world of their owners in which to prepare for a day and they also acted as a retreat from life's tough interactions. They housed our families, our memories, and our stuff.  They represented a place where we could be ourselves.  Our homes have always been exempt from any and all of the accessibility regulations that have been put in place since 1968 when our Viet Nam veterans were returning home. 

 

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling

Let's face it, accessible homes are needed by all of us at some time in our lives even for a short time.  This is true whether it's for ourselves, a family member, or a guest. The need is certainly not driven by age but is a result of life's experience sometimes requiring wheelchair remodeling. Any family living with a disability among any of its generations within its group can always benefit from additional home accessibility

Everyone ages differently and has different needs and wants.  The factors that constitute the Aging in Place market for all individuals are based on a person's genetic makeup, their lifestyle including the choices they have made while living their life, and their environment. These factors have brought about the need for universal design principles.  This is the design of products, services, and environments that are usable by as many people as possible regardless of age, ability, or situation without the need for adaptation or specialized alterations.  It provides for the greatest safety and access for any home guests or occupants and is undetectable when done well. Since so very few homes share the accessibility offered by Universal Design, to satisfy the needs of a particular household member brought about by an accident, an illness, or simply the aging process there will always be a need for customized accessibility features.  This will be accomplished by a CAPS accredited remodeling professional producing a truly functional design. This same competent home remodeling company that understands and practices accessible home modifications in Austin should carry out the work to fit the design and ensure your safety and accessibility. The criteria for home accessibility are not common knowledge among builders. It is acquired and practiced knowledge.

The National Association of Home Builders, in partnership with the AARP and Home Innovation Research Labs, created the CAPS program, which includes training and education on the technical, business management, and customer service skills essential to compete in the fastest-growing segment of the residential remodeling industry--home modifications for Aging in Place.  David L. Traut, CAPS owner of T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is one of the select group of professionals nationwide to earn the Certified Aging in Place Specialist (CAPS) designation more than a decade ago, identifying him as a home remodeler and builder with the skills and knowledge necessary to remodel or modify a home to meet the unique needs of the older population, disabled owners or their visitors. We generate handicap accessible floor plans for our clients with special needs. Our design/build projects have helped countless homeowners through the VA, HUD, and the private sector. The home modifications we offer will in turn increase safety and independence for all involved as they go through life.

For additional information about the CAPS program, visit nahb.org/CAPS.  For more information about T-Square Company, visit www.tsquareco.com or call 512-444-0097.

Aging In Place Home Modifications

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Age in Place At Home/Home Accessibility Help

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Jan 19, 2022 @ 12:01 PM

AIPSTUD cover4-1

Everyone planning to remain in their home to Age in Place is looking for safety, security, ease of use, and comfort. Homeowners and families must plan for future housing needs. The current housing inventory does not offer the features needed for safety and accessibility in the numbers required to accommodate the growing demand. They have weighed the costs of institutional living compared to their home’s expenses. They also realize the difference in adhering to stringent rules in a facility instead of independently and freely residing in their present home.

Before and after retirement is an excellent time to prepare the house for what comes next in life—before any significant health issues appear. Choosing to Age in Place earlier in life using Universal Design techniques means a family can longer enjoy the home without obstruction. Their relatives, visitors, and children have peace of mind assured the aging loved ones or the chronically ill are safer living at home.

The truth is, with professional help, you can adapt almost any home environment to enable you and everyone else in the family to live within it to the fullest extent safely. The process is not age-related. Disability can strike any family member at any age. The need for greater home accessibilty is the common thread. Universal Design or inclusive design is a design and building pathway that makes homes more accessible to all regardless of their age, mobility, or ability when appropriately used. The design process offers a seamless path for Aging in Place. It addresses the requirements of special needs families or multigenerational situations. Solutions for diverse living conditions are now becoming a possibility.

Regardless of size or ability, people are becoming more familiar with Universal Design and Aging in Place if considering a home remodeling project. Some people use these words interchangeably, but while they are similar, they do differ. Both are specific design techniques used in making a home more comfortable and accessible for individuals of different abilities. Universal Design deals more with customized new dwellings and a proactive remodeling approach for people wanting to Age in Place before any health issues arise. Aging in Place strictly involves remodeling existing homes to accommodate physical needs brought on by sudden health issues in a reactive manner. The costs for both processes represent a beneficial investment in your home for future needs as opposed to merely spending involving aesthetically pleasing remodeling projects.

I came to realize over my building career that including cramped twisting hallways with narrow doorways, bathrooms lacking maneuvering space and usability, kitchens without accessible storage and workspaces, and stepped home entries were repeating home design flaws. The home building industry has always lacked inclusion for all homeowners with their ever-changing needs.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

As a Certified Aging in Place (CAPS) professional (#1636580), I am confident this book, which will hopefully be available toward the end of 2022, will introduce you to a new way of thinking about your home's future. It offers a guide for solving diverse home needs for all people affected by varying physical conditions and aging. I decided to write this book due to many customer requests for a summation of suggestions to improve their home's accessibility, comfort, usefulness, and sustainability and, ideas they could share with others.  I based the information provided on countless past walkthroughs and home assessments. Inside, you can discover room by room the benefits of using the principles of Universal Design and how to incorporate them periodically throughout your living environment at your own pace. I guide you through a home, making suggestions for what will increase your and your family's future accessibility.  You will notice the chapters involving the bathroom and kitchen are pretty extensive. They represent the most important rooms to consider when planning to Age in Place. The most utilized rooms in our homes must accommodate all diverse residents and visitors.

Would you please not allow your home to hold you or your loved ones captive within its walls and enable your home to conform to you and the needs of your family. Please think ahead positively and proactively while preparing for the future. IT JUST MAKES GOOD SENSE.

Home Accessibility Help

#accessiblehomes

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CAPS Services In Austin, Texas

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Thu, Dec 16, 2021 @ 15:12 PM

What are CAPS services and what does CAPS stand for? First of all, CAPS stands for Certified Aging in Place Specialist. The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge, and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001.

Accessible Shower in Austin

The services offered by a CAPS professional varies from a complete accessible remodel to improving certain areas in the home like bathrooms or kitchens. The precise modifications increase usability according to personal needs of the homeowner and family. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with homeowners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever-increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day-to-day problems weighing on those with health limitations. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. T-Square Company located in Austin, Texas is one of the specialized CAPS certified contractors.

The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. David L. Traut, president, and owner of T-Square Company is an active CAPS member (#1636580) and has participated in the program for over a decade. Furthermore, he has actively completed accessibility design/build remodels for over 25 years for the private sector, HUD, and the VA.  Always check a person's credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

If the current pandemic taught us anything concerning safety and institutional living situations, we now know it is much safer to remain in your home surrounded by familiar surroundings and friends. During the stay-at-home mandates, everyone was aware of what Aging in Place meant. We all became better acquainted with our homes and family members. The best way to approach a desire to Age in Place is by being proactive before an illness takes control of your life. At that point, you must deal with it in a reactive manner. There are many differences between home modifications and a home remodel. The main difference is home modifications involve investing in your familiar home versus spending during remodeling. Home modifications are used to enhance your ADL (Activities of Daily Living) whereas remodeling deals more with aesthetics. Investing in your home will benefit your future retirement years by making your home conform to your needs.  

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home. Our knowledge and experience can help solve your personal needs within your existing home. Whether you need a safer shower, wider doorways, a zero-step entrance, or a more accessible kitchen to entertain your family and friends, T-Square Company is here to help.

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Remodel Your Bathroom Wisely For Future Needs/Accessible Bathrooms

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Fri, Nov 12, 2021 @ 15:11 PM

As a universal design/build construction company located in Austin, Texas, T-Square Company realizes that building for your future changing needs is a very valuable consideration concerning all your periodic remodeling projects. We always design for the future for our clients, regardless of their age or abilities. This thought process is especially true when designing a bathroom upgrade. Being a nationally CAPS certified remodeler, we are very aware your personal needs can change in the blink of an eye. The daily tasks of getting into the bathroom, bathing, showering, using the toilet, or brushing your teeth can become almost impossible without assistance if you don't address your bathroom's inaccessibility in a proactive manner. Any revisions must be completed before you absolutely need the help. Design shortcomings become ever so noticeable if you have an accident and are recovering at home or a debilitating disease sets in. Most all problems caused by architectural barriers will be eliminated with a handicap accessible bathroom remodel.

We are certain that avoiding emergency remodeling while incorporating Universal Design techniques into your home whenever possible is a great way of enhancing your health, independence, and safety. This practice also provides a better overall quality of life. The sooner the main inaccessible areas in your home are addressed, the longer you and your family have to enjoy them. For those desiring to Age in Place, as in safely living in your own home for as long as possible, gradually incorporating the principles of Universal Design into all remodeling projects provides a seamless gateway for successful aging. So, what are the main concerns when designing a bathroom for the future?

 

Getting Into The Bathroom

Accessible bathroom in Austin

When possible, you should always install a 36-inch wide door into your bathroom allowing all mobility devices to enter without obstruction. Sometimes it's easier when walls cannot be altered or removed to make a large double door entry into the bathroom. Replacing the original twenty-four to twenty-eight-inch wide door offers maximum accessibility for anyone. This universal design element provides clear approaches toward all bathroom fixtures from an adjoining room.  Additionally, an unobstructed 60-inch wheelchair turning radius is shared by the bathroom and adjacent room.

 

An Accessible Shower

ADA shower in Austin, Texas

A safe, low-profile (1 1/2" tall) accessible shower with roll-in capability from an add-on ramp suits the needs of most diverse homeowners. Even if you don't require the grab bars during a particular phase of your life, installing adequate blocking before the tile is installed provides a universal path for your future needs once the bars are required. Take note, the grab bars must be able to withstand a shear force of 300 pounds. Their purpose is to provide support and stability when you need it most. Clutter within the shower and especially on the shower floor is a safety hazard. Recessed shampoo niches keep shampoo bottles and other items off the floor. Additionally, folding shower seats are far safer than free-standing models that are rarely ever in the right place. They save space when folded while not in use and never interrupt the use of a shower chair. It is a common misconception that shower controls must be mounted on one wall underneath the fixed shower head. Shower valves can be installed anywhere they are most convenient for the user, especially if a caretaker is involved. A recessed shower can light above the shower decreases shadows and further increases safety.

 

Using The Toilet

ADA accessible toilet in Austin

When a toilet exists in a confining room or space, there is no easy way of approaching it if you have mobility problems and especially if you are using any kind of mobility device. After all, safety is the predominant concern when using the toilet. Remove all restricting walls and narrow doors so everyone can freely approach and use the toilet. Once again, grab bars increase safety when they are required and must be adequately prepared for installation. Another problem with toilets involves those that are too short requiring deep knee bends for using them. A higher comfort height toilet offers significant help with this problem. Be sure the flush handle is toward the open side of the bathroom.

 

Brushing Your Teeth

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Offering adaptability in a vanity is a universal design aspect. Everyone has equal access while standing or using a wheelchair--if only for a short time during recoveries. More adaptability is offered using multiple height countertops. Lever faucets are easier for everyone to operate, even for those users with arthritis. Motion-sensor faucets create washing areas that are completely hand-free.

 

When you are ready to take the next steps toward your accessible future, contact T-Square Company in Austin, Texas. We can show you how to address your personal needs using our more than thirty years of knowledge and design/build accessibility experience. We guarantee to keep you safer in your existing home longer and out of dangerous and uncaring institutions using our proven design methods. We offer all handicap accessible home renovations or additions--especially accessible bathrooms.

David L. Traut, CAPS #1636580

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Who Do You Hire for an Aging in Place Project?

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Mon, Mar 29, 2021 @ 15:03 PM

The biggest and most important challenge for any homeowner wanting to increase accessibility using Universal Design to Age in Place is qualifying a chosen builder or remodeler. Consumers must verify the tradesman or professional has both the experience and knowledge for understanding any requirements used to increase the client’s safety and accessibility within the home. This is the only variable a homeowner controls in the building process. You are about to give a complete stranger your trust in a very serious matter of which you most likely know little about beyond articles read on the internet or hearsay. All professionals selected must be knowledgeable and experienced concerning Universal Design projects. The relevant personnel having job input concerning the client consist of architects, designers, builders, remodelers, and any therapists or extended healthcare workers who are involved with any household occupant requiring home modifications. I have witnessed clients who are completely overwhelmed and frustrated when interviewing several groups of building professionals including subcontractors with overlapping scopes of work. They become confused by the large amount of information gathered. Be advised that too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil a successful job outcome. CAPS certified accessibility specialists are trained to be better capable of helping with both the design and construction phases of the project. Most CAPS members have had coursework in Universal Design. However, you would not choose a recent law graduate over an experienced defense attorney to represent you in a serious matter. Even though both people have law degrees, there is only one path to choose. The remodeling business is no exception. All CAPS certified professionals are not equal. Some come from different professional backgrounds other than construction while others have not used their acquired knowledge long enough to make a difference. Ask about their experience and how long they have practiced Aging in Place remodeling. A well-seasoned contractor has seen what issues frequently come up in making improvements for Aging in Place and knows which methods he or she has used to overcome certain problematic areas of the home.

Aging in Place remodeling in Austin

The aging societal changes and inventory of inaccessible existing houses created the need for a CAPS certification program. This designation program, offered through the National Association of Home Builders, NAHB, in collaboration with The American Association of Retired Persons or AARP, incorporates components of assessment, technical knowledge and management skills related to home modifications used to help people stay at home safely and independently for a longer period of time. The program was developed in 2001. The CAPS program connects responsible professionals with home owners needing specialized accessibility services on an ever increasing basis. Ordinary homeowners with extraordinary challenges partner up with experienced CAPS professionals and their own families. Working as a team, the trained CAPS specialist along with any family caretakers or therapists is able to identify the day to day problems weighing on those with health limitations. Aging in Place services provided by a specialized remodeling contractor ensures all accessibility issues of the home are accomplished correctly. The CAPS credential is a nationwide initiative and many construction and design professionals are taking advantage of the helpful training across the nation. Always check his or her credentials to verify the remodeler holds an active CAPS certification and is familiar with Universal Design. All registered CAPS program graduates and remodeling companies are listed in a national registry in Washington DC. The information is found by calling 1-800-368-5242 or by simply visiting their website at: http:www.nahb.org/en/learn/designations/certified-aging-in-place-specialist.aspx.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

Experienced CAPS certified remodelers have the knowledge, expertise and sensitivity to provide modifications for making a home safer, more accessible, and better suited to the client’s required needs. A professional CAPS certified builder or remodeler is able to correctly assess the costs associated with an accessible design and lead the homeowner in the right direction adhering to the available budget costs to accomplish the modifications needed. Home modifications, accessibility products, and barrier free design greatly promote the independence and functional ability of physically challenged and aging individuals. Designing around specific physical conditions for accessibility lessens the impact of arthritis, restricted mobility, or loss of vision by using combinations of products, concepts, and techniques available today. Keep in mind when hiring a Certified Aging in Place Specialist they offer a service rather than a product. Each CAPS member draws from a different knowledge base, and approaches each project in a distinct way.

T-Square Company in Austin, Texas is a CAPS certified remodeler and offers design/build Aging in Place projects using principles of Universal Design. Call 512-444-0097 to discuss your project today and learn how you can achieve better accessibility within your existing home.

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Universal Design Bedroom

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 09, 2020 @ 12:12 PM

Accessible bedrooms are important for people with or without disabilities and for anyone planning to Age in Place. A functional accessible bedroom involves basic Universal Design principles to accommodate future needs. This endeavor ensures access to everyone regardless of their age, abilities, or size. Using Universal Design in the bedroom guarantees everything is easy to see, in reach, and most importantly, easy to approach. Going from the bathroom to the bedroom involves the shortest distance allowed without turns if possible. Traveling from the accessible bedroom through a 36 inch wide door provides access into the designated accessible bathroom. The size of the targeted bedroom dictates the furniture layout. Determine the best furniture placement allowing a clear five foot turning radius inside the bedroom.

Universal design/build  project in Austin

Arrange furniture producing a clear unobstructed 36 inch wide path and prevent clutter. Visualize moving around in the bedroom while approaching the closet utilizing a 30 x 48 inch clear space overlapping with the turning radius area. Always avoid clutter using too much furniture causing interference and trip hazards.

Certified Aging In Place Specialist

The closet and dressing area are part of the bedroom. When feasible, open shelf and drawer storage for non-hanging items provide the greatest accessibility in the closet. Built in pull out shelves and drawers are installed below the 48 inch rod/shelf location for specific storage. Fixed shelves or a pull down rod is installed as a storage solution above the 48 inch rod/shelf. Clothes carousels and automated shoe storage units provide further options for the closet. Automated shoe storage units provide an option to regular stationary shoe storage providing greater storage capacity. In any good Universal Design bedroom the lighting, color finishes, and flooring are specified correctly ensuring increased safety and ease of use concerning everyone using the bedroom. The end result is functional and beautiful as well as spacious creating a feeling of openness.  

Home Accessibility Help    

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Universal Bathroom Design

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Dec 02, 2020 @ 11:12 AM

Including Universal Design ideas when periodically remodeling anywhere within the home and especially in the bathroom means the design personally fits a family for a longer period of time. Universal Design contains the natural ability to adapt with people. Many times, an existing bathroom’s layout is changed regarding fixture arrangement and orientation to increase efficiency. Remodeling an existing bathroom using Universal Design possibly involves changing the wall configuration for a more open feeling. Additional space is needed in the bathroom once caretakers providing assistance are required for aging adults or young children.

wheelchair bathroom design in Austin

Modifying the bathroom following practiced wheelchair accessibility guidelines is a great place to start a Universal Design remodel in any home. The expanded clearances involved create a more comfortable and roomy environment for every family member. Universal Design principles provide access for the users of wheelchairs or walkers including everyone else including children. A functional, well organized, and attractive layout placing the items used in close proximity and within reach of the users meets the needs of most homeowners including children and aging adults. This includes people with limited mobility or impaired reach due to physical or medical conditions. The diversity of all people is accounted for. Therefore, it represents a perfect design concept for multi-generational households. Regarding the current multi-generational living environments there are varying participants of many ages with multiple sizes and abilities within the family group indicating the need for Universal Design’s use throughout the home. A major difference in these special family units is a better probability function and dexterity is negatively affected by a group member. 

Planning for the future involving Universal Design principles is so important with any remodel for both now and in the future. Using Universal Design to remodel a bathroom space increases aesthetics, sustainability, usefulness, and safety while lending itself to privacy in a functional surrounding. Universal Design bathroom accessibility includes opening up the area with a clear five foot diameter in case a wheelchair is needed, adding grab bars or handrails throughout the home (or at least blocking for them for a later time when needed), adding a seat within a roll in shower, lowering upper cabinets and counter tops, providing an accessible comfort height toilet, offering at least one vanity sink with roll under capability, adding non-slip flooring, widening hallways, and widening doors. Privacy, sense of belonging, sense of control, and the feelings of safety and security make up the quality of life for any home and are considered for any successful Universal Design project. The reasons for embracing these ideas go beyond aging and disability. They include being an asset for children, is inviting to visitors, it promotes long term health and wellness, works well for seniors, all this paired with the fact it is smart and invisible. 

Bathroom Remodels

Designing task oriented bathroom fixture locations takes into account their use, placement, or how they make up the bathroom environment. This defines the current way of thinking universally. A clear floor space of 30 by 48 inches is provided for approaching all bathroom fixtures. These areas can overlap one another and the five foot turning radius within the design. Always choose quality plumbing fixtures and fittings easily controlled using a single hand motion or a closed fist. Motion controlled sensor fixtures offering hands free operation are a possibility when specifying fixtures and finishes. Sometimes, the master bath today is one of the busiest rooms in the home. It has the potential of becoming the family bathroom. If young children are a part of the family, bath time transforms the bathroom into a very busy and crowded area. If aging parents are visiting, they also need their time in the bathroom because it is a larger and safer space.  

Wheelchair Accessible Remodeling        

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Maneuvering In and Around The Accessible Home

Posted byDavid L. Traut, CAPS on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 @ 17:11 PM

The number one safety hazard for elderly or disabled people of any age is negotiating level changes both outside and within the home--steps at the entry, stairs between floors, curbs to step over when entering the bath or shower, and being able to access patios, decks, and terraces. When Universal Design is correctly incorporated into a home’s layout, these flexible houses accommodate the needs of their owners and their visitors even as those needs evolve over time. Barrier free homes are functional and comfortable as well as accessible to everyone.

Visitability or the lack thereof begins at the curb for every home. This term refers to how easy it is for all people coming by to pay a visit or stay with the homeowner regardless of their physical abilities. Occupants and visitors are capable of entering an accessible bathroom located on the same floor representing the visitability of the home. Ideally, the entry into the house is through a 36 inch wide door having an ADA threshold to create a no step entry.  Entrance is obtained using an easily graspable lever style lock.

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The accessible entrance is a great place to begin an accessible route for most homes. Once inside the structure a new set of problems concerning accessibility are discovered along the extended accessible route if the entire first floor is not on one single level. The designated accessible route continues into all of the most used rooms increasing accessibility. All swinging doors are minimally 36 inches wide using Universal Design along the accessible route producing a clear 32 inch wide opening when the door is opened to ninety degrees. Sliding, pocket, and bi-fold doors require less operating approach space because the door is better contained along the wall in which it is mounted.

With increasing age or following a temporary health setback, simply maneuvering around inside the home is increasingly more difficult. This designated route includes a 5 x 5 foot clear turning space required for wheelchairs in the main living area, kitchen, the bedroom, and one bathroom. The selection, placement, and design of doors and doorways influence a wide range of people. The location of the doorways affects furniture placement and usable space within the associated room. This in turn affects the clear floor space and usability of the living environment for someone confined to a wheelchair utilizing the accessible route.

Home Accessibility Help

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